Phil Jaques, the New South Wales opening batsman left out of the South Africa touring squad, has been told by Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, to improve his fielding. Since making 94 on one-day debut at Melbourne, Jaques has been pushing to replace Simon Katich, who sealed his spot with a maiden century on Tuesday, at the top of the order.
Jaques usually stands in the slips or at short-leg for the Blues and Hohns said his fielding was definitely an issue. "He is aware of it and we're all aware of, and the coach [John Buchanan] is aware of," Hohns said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "We're obviously hoping he'll do something about it and we'll be there to help him wherever we can. If that means getting him some specialist attention, that's what we'll do."
Brad Haddin, the New South Wales captain, told the paper he was surprised by Hohns's concerns, but said Jaques had worked hard on improving his skills since his Test debut in December. "It's something that can be blown a bit out of proportion," he said. "His fielding for us has been very good."
Hohns said the team had been picked before Katich's century on Tuesday night and he was happy with his partnership with Adam Gilchrist. "I think we've shown a bit of faith in him all through the VB Series," Hohns said in the Daily Telegraph. "There has been a lot of talk about his position in the side, and for him to make that breakthrough and get that hundred you could see he had a little bit more emotion that he didn't let out."
Hohns said it was "nice" to have Jaques putting pressure on the top side. "Phil Jaques is probably doing exactly what Matthew Hayden did a few years ago when he wasn't playing for Australia - he just keeps scoring runs," he said. Australia start the South Africa series with a Twenty20 International on February 24 before the five-match one-day competition.